What we need above everything else in the Theosophical Society, my beloved Companions, is field-workers; and I hope that as time goes on these field-workers will be forthcoming, not at all — or at least not wholly — from the International Headquarters, but will spring up from the fruitful soil of the Theosophical Lodges themselves. It is my most earnest wish that every Theosophical Lodge have a care, not only of its own territory, but in a sense also of territory contiguous to its own particular field of effort. I mean that it is my hope that every lodge will, so to speak, branch out and extend its sphere into villages or towns near its own established center in an endeavor to build up new lodges or to found new clubs — such newly-found lodges or clubs becoming, as time rolls on, in their turn new fields of expanding activity, somewhat after the idea of the traditional snowball which grows progressively larger with each new turn.
Never be discouraged by the difficulties that may face you at any time. Remember always that as lodges and as individuals you are all members of one body-corporate, limbs of one mystical union; and that we are backed by the tremendous spiritual power which is the heart of the Theosophical Movement, and upon it any genuine Theosophical worker may draw endlessly, if he so will, for continuous inspiration and energy.
I ask you also to remember the great dignity of our Theosophical work, which, as everyone knows, should not only rise out of personalities of any kind, but in which it is expected that every member shall subordinate, in as far as humanly possible for him or her to do so, the personal wishes or preferences for the common good, for the common weal, for the common welfare, of the Theosophical Society.
Remember, likewise, that devoted workers, your brothers, are active in many other parts of the world, and that they are attempting to do exactly the same work that you are trying to do.
— Extracts from a message to members of the T. S. in Los Angeles, California, and in neighboring towns, read on January 17, 1934.
The fundamental aim of the T. S. the same today as in H. P. B.'s time — The Masters' effort in founding the T. S. to stem the tide of psychism — The danger of half-teaching — Present conditions reminiscent of the Roman Empire in its decay — Enlarge the sphere of influence of the English Section — Adhere to the traditional path pointed to by H. P. B.
I am writing to you, following upon a cable received from your National President, Dr. Barker, telling me that he would appreciate a letter from me of "general guidance" for the English work, to use his own words, which he would read at the meeting of your General Council on May 5th. I am addressing this to the President, Officials, and Fellows of the English Section of the Theosophical Society; and more particularly to the Members of your General Council; but if in the judgment of the General Council the contents of this letter should be reserved in England for the General Council alone, you have my full consent to doing so.
It is with genuine pleasure that I am writing to you this letter, touching upon what seem to me to be certain very necessary steps for the guidance of the work of the English Section of the Theosophical Society, certainly along general lines, and it may be, if your judgment agree, also in particulars.
Under the Constitution of the Theosophical Society, each National Section thereof is autonomous within the provisions of the said Constitution; but while we all recognise this to be a fact, none of us, I take it, is oblivious of the other even more important fact, which is of a spiritual character, that such autonomy by no means does away with the traditional and necessary integrity of the Theosophical Society as a whole. I mean by this that while each Section is autonomous under the terms of our Constitution, there exist among these several Sections what are really unbreakable bonds of union, which cannot be ruptured without seriously endangering the spiritual and intellectual purposes for which the Theosophical Society was founded by our beloved H. P. B., as the Envoy of her Teachers.
Having this condition in mind, it is with the less hesitation that I embark upon certain suggestions which I herewith lay before you, realizing that you will not take them as 'orders,' nor as mandatory upon you, unless you choose so to consider them. The duties of the Leader, as outlined in the Constitution, are, among other things, to direct the general policy of the Theosophical Society.
Now, my Brothers, while it is quite true that the methods of work in any Association of human beings of necessity may and perhaps must change from century to century, or from time to time, yet in a Movement such as ours, in a Society such as ours, fundamental principles endure for aye, and are not subject either to essential change or to radical modification, because they are based in our own case upon the same fundamental principles or laws which keep the fabric of the Universe whole and unimpaired — I mean that the principles upon which we work are spiritual ones, derivative from Intelligences far higher than are our own spiritual or intellectual efforts or understandings, which by comparison are relatively feeble.
The world is entering upon psychologic conditions far different from what existed in the time when H. P. B. founded the T. S.; and the signs of these changing events are observable everywhere. It were sheer folly to put blinders over our eyes and to suppose that we are still living in the psychological atmosphere which prevailed more or less from 1875 to 1914.
Yet it would be equally foolish in my judgment to suppose that the declarations of cause of the founding of the T. S., which were made by the Masters and their Messenger H. P. B., between 1875 and 1891, which was the time of her passing, have been exhausted in their necessary effects, and that these same causes no longer are valid. The exact contrary of this is the case. The Theosophical Society was formed above everything else to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions, to be a bulwark of spirituality in the world, and perhaps above everything else to bring about at least a nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood which could successfully face and in time prevail over the mistakes of the passing phases in human civilization, such as above said we today see around us on every hand. In other words, the causes for the founding of the T. S. are really stronger today than they were at the time of the birth of the Society.
The Masters in their wisdom foresaw what was coming, foresaw the need of introducing into the thought-life of the world ideas, teachings, doctrines, which would stem and perhaps divert into harmless flow the inrushing tide of psychism which it was seen clearly in 1875 and before, the modern world was about to face, and perhaps the Occidental part of the modern world especially so.
How wise these warnings were that were given to us soon after H. P. B. founded the T. S. in 1875, should be by now appreciated by every thoughtful mind. On all sides we see new, fantastic, and in some instances crazy, psychical movements springing up; strange and erratic organizations are gathering in adherents by the hundreds and in some cases by the thousands. Eminent men of science in a few cases are even having their attention drawn to and their imagination captured by phenomenalistic occurrences which make an appeal to them precisely because they have the illusory appearance of being something tangible and real, which they suppose can be subjected to laboratory-tests.
Examine the many periodicals now in publication, some of them relatively harmless, some of them simply foolish, some of them downright dangerous; and consider the dreams of Cloud-Cuckoo-Land which most of these periodicals or magazines publish. Most of them appropriate, with none or at best with little acknowledgment, more or less of the teachings which H. P. B. brought to the western world, and misuse these teachings by way of making foundations of them upon which are erected false claims concerning fraudulent initiations and equally fraudulent initiates.
It is clap-trap of this kind which is always a bait to the uninstructed, because it is these masses of the uninstructed, alas, our unenlightened brothers hungry for truth as they are, who have their attention fascinated and their adherence captured. I tell you, my Brothers, that we shall be held, and indeed are now, responsible for any slackness or failure to emphasize the purposes of the Theosophical Movement, and for our failure to do our utmost to spread abroad the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom-Religion of the gods, as they have been given to us. These teachings alone will stem the present rising psychic tide and divert this vast mass of inchoate human psychical energy into the proper channels. This rising psychic tide of energy takes many forms. In some it is purely psychical or psychistic, finding its outlet in the various quasi-occult or pseudo-mystical movements which flourish today. In other cases this psychical tide makes its appearance in emotional or quasi-religious forms of a revivalist character.
As I ponder the situation, I am with every day that passes more and more reminded of the conditions that prevailed in the Roman Empire just preceding the days of its social disintegration. Writers like Ammianus Marcellinus have transmitted to us descriptions of conditions prevailing in the Roman Empire at the time of its first decline and before its fall — strangely, amazingly alike unto what prevails in the world today. Multitudes running after so-called magicians, necromantic practices breaking out sporadically in all the parts of that Empire, fortune-telling and other similar fads, and emotional revivalist bodies thronging both town and country-side in semi-religious frenzy!
My Brothers, precisely the same outbreaks are observable in all parts of the world today; and I call your attention to it because it is the immediate and most important problem that faces us. I do not mean to suggest that our present civilization is in the same perilous condition as was the Roman Imperiurn at the time of which I speak. I call your attention to the amazing similarity, and say that the same dangers threaten us now that then threatened imperial Rome. Today the chances are greater for a spiritual reaction towards sanity and safety, and I believe it will come in time.
I would therefore suggest for the "general guidance" of the English Section, to adopt the phraseology of your beloved President, that all your energies, spiritual, intellectual, and physical, (in every proper and honorable way consonant with ethics and the laws of your country) be devoted to a spreading of the teachings and ethic of the Theosophical Movement, and in particular of our own beloved Theosophical Society, and along the traditional lines which we have received from H. P. B.'s hands; and which, with only such minor changes as the necessities of the changing times require, we have followed faithfully to the present day.
I for one have no patience — which lack of patience may be a minor defect in my character — with those who claim that the Theosophical Society has failed, because it does not make "a big noise" in the world. I should feel alarmed were the case otherwise. As I have recently written in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, the influence of the Theosophical Society should be like that of the Spirit in the Christian tradition, entering silently, stealing in slowly, but working powerfully, in the minds and hearts of our members, so that each one of them with prudence, good judgment, and good taste, which the study of Theosophy always implants in the human heart, becomes individually, and in subordination to higher Theosophical authority, a leader in our work — a center for the spreading of the doctrines and therefore of the influence which the T. S. was founded to disseminate.
In the T. S. we have little to complain of as regards our fundamental law, to wit our Constitution; still less of the sublime spiritual principles which at least as an ideal govern our Theosophical activities. All studious Theosophists must have come to a realization that the only saving power, the only saving grace, in the world today, is precisely the doctrines contained in our standard Theosophical books, which likewise include the ethic which is the heart of these doctrines. It is only in matters of detail, only in particulars, only in points of administration, that we have need to be watchful and to take care lest our choice of methods be unwise. Nevertheless, if the heart be right and our minds be set to the spiritual Polar Star, as our infallible guide, the mistakes that we may make — and indeed we all make mistakes — become relatively unimportant; for mistakes can be corrected, errors in judgment can be abated; and it at least is comforting to know that we learn from our mistakes, and that our work afterwards becomes only the stronger and the purer because from our eyes the veils have fallen.
I have every confidence in the moral and intellectual integrity of all the officers and fellows of the English Section of the T. S.; and I would earnestly suggest to you a careful consideration of the suggestions imbodied in this letter, and that a more vigorous endeavor than ever before be made to enlarge the sphere of influence of the English Section of the T. S. along the traditional lines, which, I take it, you all hold as dear as I do.
Of course I am writing to men and women whom I believe with all my soul to be true Theosophists, and therefore who will understand the significance imbodied in the lines that I am now writing to you. The general guidance that your President has suggested I write to you about, I think has been sufficiently set forth; and it is, in the last analysis, the traditional policy of the T. S. which H. P. B. first inaugurated, and which we of Point Loma, at least among other Theosophists in the Theosophical Movement, have done our best faithfully to follow. As regards particulars, I repeat that these are things which must be left to the best judgment of the President, Fellows, and Officials of the English Section themselves.
I venture to say — and I trust that you will take this observation not as a criticism of our Brothers of Adyar, but as merely pointing to what is to me a most serious error of judgment on their part in the past — that the worst thing that could happen to a Theosophical Society would be, or rather is, to undertake any work or any activity outside the traditional path pointed to with unerring hand by our great H. P. B. Suffer no introduction among yourselves of activities or objectives extraneous to this tradition; and the well-known "orthodoxy," if I may use a dreadfully misused word, of your respected National President, Dr. Barker, is, I take it, a guarantee that the helm of the Ship of State of the English Section of the T. S. will always be held true to the Theosophical Spiritual North.
We are all human. As the old Latin proverb says, we are all apt to err, sometimes because of enthusiasm, sometimes because of the spirit of over-aggressive propaganda; but, as said above, errors can be repaired; mistakes can be righted. The only thing we must never do is to wander from the Path which lies before us: that age-old Path — quiet, small, holy, which the Seers and Sages of all the ages have pointed to as the path of safety for the Theosophical worker, and for all mankind.
And now, in conclusion, my English Brothers, support the hands and work of your President in every way possible, in increasing our membership, in founding new lodges, in teaching and in preaching Theosophy everywhere and at all times and on all occasions where good judgment and good taste and common sense allow it to be done without offense to others.
I am, with my heart's best wishes,
Fraternally and faithfully yours,
G. de Purucker
— Letter to the Officials and Members of the General Council of the English Section, April 21, 1934.
MR. CHAIRMAN AND FELLOW-THEOSOPHISTS:
It is with profound and living sympathy that I am sending this brief message of fraternal good-will and fellowship to you all, on the occasion of your celebrating on May 8th of this year the anniversary of the passing of our Masters' first Envoy to the western world.
These gatherings have never been mere formal assemblies of well-meaning people desirous of paying at least a modicum of respect to one whom we all recognise as a Theosophical worker of unsurpassed ability and endless devotion. White Lotus Day, it seems to me, should be an annual event of real importance in our common Theosophical labor; where, if nothing else can be accomplished, or received by way of individual or collective inspiration, we can at least feel that Theosophists of various shades of belief may meet together on a ground of fervid sympathy, mutual understanding, and organizational peace.
For what, I ask you, could or would please our grand H. P. B. more than this — the practical demonstration among ourselves of the brotherhood which we preach to others as a rule of conduct in human life, and as being, we all hope, the basis on which the nations of the earth in some happier future time will meet in a similar spirit of amity, comity, good-will, and mutual understanding.
Is it not possible to make of our White Lotus Day celebrations, coming once a year, regular occasions of interorganizational fraternization, wherein differences of viewpoint are laid aside, differences of feeling are at least temporarily forgotten, and on which occasions our hearts can combine as one in reverence and sincere homage to the great woman who gave up all for the sake of the world, thereby exemplifying the first rule of genuine chelaship?
In many countries such interorganizational Theosophical fraternization gatherings are taking place; and it is my very sincere hope that by thus coming to know each other better, Theosophists of differing opinions and feelings may come to respect the good in each other, and to learn to lay aside these very differences of opinion which have, alas, too long kept us apart in our common grand work of the dissemination of the teachings of the Wisdom-Religion among men.
Argumentation is worthless. Arguments are usually futile, because they commonly persuade one's interlocutor that he is right, and you are wrong. But common ideals and objectives, mutually recognised, and recognition of each others' good qualities, and forgetfulness of the points of difference, are universally recognised among thoughtful people as being the basis on which a common labor can be undertaken in harmony, in peace, in mutual respect, and in that spirit of impersonal devotion towards which, I believe, true Theosophists of all Societies aspire.
If it ever be not possible to hold our White Lotus Day celebrations as interorganizational Theosophical gatherings, members of our own beloved T. S. can meet in precisely the same spirit of good-will to all the world, to all that lives and breathes, to gods and men, as the Lord Buddha said; and as such an attitude, and as such a feeling, and as such an outlook, combine to form a genuine spiritual exercise of the greatest value, these White Lotus Day meetings should sow, therefore, seeds of thought in the soil of our hearts and minds, blossoming, let us hope, at a later day into their natural bloom, and furnishing throughout the remaining months of the year one strong source of inspiration to which we can look back with the elevation of mind and heart which such gatherings will certainly evoke and indeed sustain.
Above everything else, let us strive to make of our White Lotus Day celebrations gatherings or assemblies where we may all of us of whatever Theosophical Society or clique, learn to lay aside the narrow and confining spirit of sectarianism. These White Lotus Day celebrations above everything else should never degenerate into mutual admiration tea-parties, in which our own impeccable virtues are elevated to the skies, and the motes in the eyes of our brothers are exaggerated into unwieldy beams.
It is in this mood that we should assemble, in my judgment, at these noble White Lotus Day celebrations; for if we do, then in candor I must say that I feel that the spirit which worked through H. P. B. from the Great Lodge will be present amongst us, amongst you, my Brothers, amongst all others who assemble in the same atmosphere of good-will, brotherhood, love to all beings, and in the spirit of justice and magnanimity towards those who differ most strongly from us.
Now, let no one imagine that the words which I have just previously written imply that we should in any wise neglect the principles which we ourselves hold so dear, principles of conduct in the T. S., and principles of conduct in our individual lives. Sympathy and brotherhood, mutual respect and peace, must be based upon honesty, sincerity, and purity of motive, otherwise we shall be mere emotionalists with our heads in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.
It is precisely because we of Point Loma love our own T. S. and its traditional principles and rules of conduct so truly, that we feel that we can understand Brother-Theosophists, comprehend their difficulties and divergencies of opinion, and have towards them, and, indeed, towards all, a spirit of genuine good-will and understanding.
When H. P. B., shortly before her passing, requested that after her death the day should be celebrated as an anniversary, it was not merely that her name should be passed from mouth to mouth in parrot-like fashion; but that our thoughts should unite upon the work which she did for the Masters who were behind her; and also that we should give to the principles which guided her own life so nobly, the same allegiance which she gave to them.
White Lotus Day celebrations should be among us serious and heart-searching annual events, partaking in more than one sense of the word of that spirit of utter reverence and impersonality which graced the rites of the Mysteries of ancient times. Forerunners of the future as we are, in our sublime philosophy and in the principles of conduct which we believe in and profess, we should ever see to it that we follow these principles to the end, and become living exemplars of the Wisdom-Faith that is ours. In so doing, we render unto our beloved H. P. B. the reverence of our minds and the homage of our hearts, in the manner that would please her best.
With my affectionate greetings to you all, I am, my Fellow-Workers in the Theosophical Cause,
Fraternally and faithfully yours,
G. de Purucker
— Letter to Theosophists of the Los Angeles District assembled on White Lotus Day, May 8, 1934.
Value of Theosophical Conventions — Tendency towards dogmatism Danger of setting up a Theosophical Creed — Explanation of 'orthodox' and 'orthodoxy' — Theosophy has a definite body of teaching, but Theosophists should not rigidly enforce its acceptance — Quotations from H. P. Blavatsky's Letters to the American Conventions in 1888 and 1889 — Hold to traditional teachings of Masters and H. P. B. — Divergence in belief in itself not harmful to T. S.
I am addressing this Message of affectionate brotherly greeting to you all on the occasion of your gathering together on the historic isle of Vising; and I will ask the Executive Vice-President of the Scandinavian Section of the Theosophical Society, our Brother Torsten Karling, to read it to you, or to appoint someone to read it in his place should he so prefer.
I would that I might be present among you, as I was last year, on the occasion of my then visit to Sweden; but in default of this, I trust that the thoughts which I shall endeavor to imbody in this my Letter to you, will receive the same kindly consideration that they would receive were I addressing you in person.
Conventions of an international character like this, your present one, are, I have always felt, of a paramount value in the conduct of the work for which the Theosophical Society was founded; because these Conventions, especially when of an international character like your present one, give the opportunity to those present and coming from different countries to exchange views and suggestions, to unite in finding always better and improved methods of Theosophical work in propaganda and otherwise, and last but not least, to come to know each other personally, and thus to unite more strongly than before, and for the weal of our common Cause, Theosophists of different countries, and, it may be, holding different opinions, but who yet are all of one mind and heart, I take it, in their common devotion for our sacred Cause and the work that it is intended to do among men.
A few weeks ago I dictated a Letter to be read at a gathering, similar in some respects to this, of our English Brothers, in which Letter I endeavored to call attention to certain principles which struck me as being necessary for the successful guidance and prosperity of our Theosophical Society, and more particularly of the work of the English Section of the T. S. This Letter will be printed in the May issue of our THEOSOPHICAL FORUM; and I would venture to call your attention to this Letter, for what I therein wrote to our Brothers of England, applies, I believe, in most respects with equal force to all Sections of the Theosophical Society.
To you, however, now gathered on beautiful Visingso, I would address a somewhat different communication, different not so much in general ideas, but differing somewhat in particulars. The thought which occupies my mind today, and which I shall herein endeavor to communicate to you, deals with a danger which, if not at all imminent — and I do not think it is at the present time — nevertheless could become a matter of importance requiring our most thoughtful consideration. This possible danger is the growth in certain quarters of our Theosophical body corporate, i. e., in the Theosophical Society, of a tendency, at least among a few, to become rather dogmatic, if not actually dictatorial, in the stating not only among ourselves but to the public of our Theosophical doctrines, teachings, truths — call them what you will. This tendency in no case arises in a real desire on the part of anyone to set up a Theosophical Creed or a body of teaching which outsiders who join us must accept, somewhat after the manner in which Christians require the acceptance of a Creed before they may join one or another of the Christian Churches; but there is a tendency, native to the human mind, and often arising in enthusiastic devotion to a cause, to crystallize out from the grand body of general Theosophical teaching a certain few doctrines which are thereafter looked upon almost as orthodox tests, and the acceptance of which is felt to be required before an outsider may join the Theosophical Society and become a member of it in good standing.
In other words — and this will briefly state what I have in mind — history shows that there is always a tendency in organizations like ours towards a doctrinal orthodoxy. This, my Brothers, we must at all times strive to prevent if we would remain true to the ideals of the T. S. originally set before us by our great Teachers through their first Messenger H. P. B. Of course I am here using the words 'orthodox' and 'orthodoxy' in the sense which has now become universally accepted as implying a framework of teaching imposed on new-comers as a sort of Credo or Creed, which must be accepted before they can become affiliated with a Church. Please note that this idea is absolutely and in all respects contrary to the Theosophical Tradition.
Frankly, I would not object to the words 'orthodox' and 'orthodoxy,' if they implied our magnificent body of Theosophical teachings, and the traditional platform of free conscience and free speech for which the Theosophical Society has stood from the date of its foundation in 1875; but unfortunately we cannot thus rightly use these words 'orthodox' and 'orthodoxy,' because they would surely be misunderstood. Hence, I avoid them. It is the tendency towards crystallized dogmas, and towards exacting an acceptance of them, to which I now desire to call your attention as a danger solely due to ordinary human psychology, against which danger we must always be on the alert.
Please note well the following facts: Theosophy as such, the pure Theosophy of our Masters, is a certain very definite body of teaching, of which only a relatively small portion has hitherto been given to the world through H. P. B.'s magnificent books, and otherwise; and this grand body of teaching deals with the greatest mysteries of the Universe, and in consequence with those of human life. It is actually a body of teaching based on Truth; and there is no harm in stating this fact: indeed, it should be stated with clarity and with insistence, so that there shall be no misunderstanding about it. In this alone, there is no possible danger, because it must always be explained that this body of teaching has arisen in the spiritual, intellectual, and psychic investigations made through ages past by the great Sages and Seers of all times, and checked in each new generation by the new body of Seers and Sages.
But while this is so in very truth, its declaration is in no wise the same thing as stating that this body of Theosophical teaching forms a framework of doctrine which anyone, Theosophist or mere inquirer, must accept before he can have the right to call himself 'Theosophist.' We must exercise sound reason and common sense and good judgment and good taste in these matters. It is perfectly true that this body of teaching is, as it were, a spiritual touchstone by which a Theosophist may test, check, compare, any thought or group of thoughts presented to him for examination; and if 'orthodoxy' meant only this, I would have no objection to the word, because 'orthodoxy' thus properly used in its original Greek etymological meaning signifies only familiarity with, and spiritual and intellectual recognition of, the truths of Nature.
However, as I have pointed out, it is better to avoid these two words 'orthodox' and 'orthodoxy,' because they are sure to be misunderstood by the great public who know little or nothing of what Theosophy per se really is. Nevertheless, it is the recognition by earnest Theosophists of the fact of the existence of this sublime body of teaching, which will prevent the propaganda-work of the Theosophical Society from becoming too diffuse, too scattered, and therefore incoherent and weak; and the recognition of this sublime body of teaching will likewise prevent the introduction to our platforms of foolish or stupid or erratic ideas — all which we should be as much on our guard against as we are, on the other hand, equally desirous of avoiding dogmatism and creeds in our private and public Theosophical work.
Note what H. P. B. wrote in her first Letter, dated April 3, 1888, and addressed to William Q. Judge, General Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, on the occasion of the American Convention of that year:
But there are others among us who realize intuitionally that the recognition of pure Theosophy — the philosophy of the rational explanation of things and not the tenets — is of the most vital importance in the Society, inasmuch as it alone can furnish the beacon-light needed to guide humanity on its true path. . . .
Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body, its many other ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of students of Theosophy, such healthy divergencies would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge.
These are wise words, my Brothers and Fellow-Theosophical Workers now assembled at Visingso; and I call your careful attention to them. They alone provide a guide in the conduct of the external affairs of the Theosophical Society, which will keep our beloved T. S. on the proper path of evolving and expanding growth, and will enable the Theosophical doctrines which it is our great desire to give to the world for the world's great benefit and help, to appeal to men of all types or classes of mentality.
Yet let us never forget, as I have pointed out above, that while orthodoxy in the common use of this word is neither "possible nor desirable," nevertheless that sublime body of Theosophic doctrine, the Wisdom of the Ages, the Wisdom of the Gods, is indeed a definite and actually existent Treasury of wisdom and knowledge upon which any intuitive mind may draw. Our dislike and rejection of orthodoxy, therefore, in no way implies the idea that we have no definite and clear-cut doctrines to give to the public; for we most certainly have. It merely signifies that we must not impose our Theosophical doctrines upon others in any wise as being a Creed or a set of dogmas, or as crystallized teachings which others must accept if they desire to join us. Indeed, let us remember that new instalments of truth are not always possible, but can be had at any time when the world is ready to receive them.
As H. P. B. wrote in the same Letter to the American Convention held in 1888:
According as people are prepared to receive it, so will new Theosophical teaching be given. But no more will be given than the world, on its present level of spirituality, can profit by. It depends on the spread of Theosophy — the assimilation of what has been already given — how much more will be revealed, and how soon.
. . . the Society was not founded as a nursery for forcing a supply of Occultists — as a factory for the manufactory of Adepts. It was intended to stem the current of materialism, and also that of spiritualistic phenomenalism and the worship of the Dead. It had to guide the spiritual awakening that has now begun, and not to pander to psychic cravings which are but another form of materialism. . . .
Men cannot all be Occultists, but they can all be Theosophists. Many who have never heard of the Society are Theosophists without knowing it themselves; for the essence of Theosophy is the perfect harmonizing of the divine with the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him. Kindness, absence of every ill feeling or selfishness, charity, good-will to all beings, and perfect justice to others as to one's self, are its chief features. He who teaches Theosophy preaches the gospel of good-will; . . .
Here we have, my Brothers, in these noble words, again important pointers as to how our common work for Theosophy should be carried on, and how the exoteric work of the Theosophical Society should be forwarded in the proper manner.
As our work continues through the coming years, we shall doubtless find that individuals, and possibly small groups of individuals, may hold definite opinions of their own concerning this doctrine, or that doctrine, or some other doctrine, belonging to the general body of Theosophical teaching; and as long as such individuals or small groups of individuals hold fast to the true Theosophy of our Masters, there will be small cause for alarm or for feeling disturbed. It is only when such individuals or small groups of individuals endeavor to impose their opinions upon others that difficulty may arise. Such imposition of any individual's doctrinal ideas or opinions concerning a Theosophical teaching, should not be allowed; although, on the other hand, as long as such individuals keep to the principles of the Theosophical Society and to the Objects of the T. S. as a whole, there can be little harm done.
Usually such individuals are convinced that their own doctrinal opinions are more important than the opinions of other Theosophists; and if this is the case, as it usually is, such individuals thereby wander from the fundamental idea, or platform, of the Theosophical Society. There is in such cases always a tendency on the part of such individuals to exaggerate the importance of their personal opinions; and often this mental attitude results in personal grievances against some official or officials of the T. S., or of one of its National Sections. This of course is always to be regretted, but probably it cannot be prevented.
In the T. S. every Theosophist has the right to the candid expression of his philosophical, religious, or scientific beliefs, provided, however, that no endeavor is made to impose these opinions or beliefs upon others; because were such imposition permitted, it would be allowing the introduction amongst us of a sort of small Popery utterly contrary to the platform of the T. S.
As H. P. B. says in her same Letter of 1888 to the American Convention:
But let no man set up a popery instead of Theosophy, as this would be suicidal and has ever ended most fatally. We are all fellow-students, more or less advanced; but no one belonging to the Theosophical Society ought to count himself as more than, at best, a pupil-teacher — one who has no right to dogmatize.
Such examples of individuals endeavoring almost as it were to force their doctrinal opinions upon others, existed even in H. P. B.'s day; such cases occurred in W. Q. Judge's short administration after H. P. B.'s death; such individuals again sprang up during the long and brilliant administration of T. S. affairs by our beloved K. T. Many of these individuals, possibly all of them, were earnest, honest men, devoutly believing that their own idiosyncrasies of interpretation of this, of that, or of some other Theosophical teaching were the only correct ones, and that those who differed from them were in the wrong. They were perfectly willing to help the T. S. as long as their opinions or beliefs were not questioned, and were allowed free and unlimited currency. But when checked, as they always were, not only by our Theosophical officials but by the common consensus of opinion of the majority of Theosophists, then their feelings usually underwent a change, and from brotherly became adversely critical, and sometimes downright non-fraternal.
In this connexion I would call your attention to a passage in a Letter by H. P. B., addressed to the American Convention of 1889. This Letter is dated April 7, 1889, and the passage I refer to reads as follows, and we should note that she is speaking of certain individuals of the type that I have just alluded to:
But the price of their assistance is that all the work must be done in their way and not in any one else's way. And if this is not carried out they sink back into apathy or leave the Society entirely, loudly declaring that they are the only true Theosophists. Or, if they remain, they endeavour to exalt their own method of working at the expense of all other earnest workers. This is fact, but it is not Theosophy. . . . Let each of us work in his own way and not endeavour to force our ideas of work upon our neighbours. . . . Theosophy is essentially unsectarian, and work for it forms the entrance to the Inner life. But none can enter there save the man himself in the highest and truest spirit of Brotherhood, and any other attempt at entrance will either be futile or he will lie blasted at the threshold.
. . . Thus, then, "UNION IS STRENGTH"; and for every reason private differences must be sunk in united work for our Great Cause.
And again, in the same Letter of 1889 to the American Convention, H. P. B. says:
We need all our strength to meet the difficulties and dangers which surround us. We have external enemies to fight in the shape of materialism, prejudice, and obstinacy; the enemies in the shape of custom and religious forms; enemies too numerous to mention, but nearly as thick as the sand-clouds which are raised by the blasting Sirocco of the desert. Do we not need our strength against these foes? Yet, again, there are more insidious foes, who "take our name in vain," and who make Theosophy a by-word in the mouths of men and the Theosophical Society a mark at which to throw mud. They slander Theosophists and Theosophy, and convert the moral Ethics into a cloak to conceal their own selfish objects. And as if this were not sufficient, there are the worst foes of all — those of a man's own household, — Theosophists who are unfaithful both to the Society and to themselves. . . .
Let us, then, my Brothers, hold with all the strength of our souls to the traditional teachings and policy of our Masters and of H. P. B., as we have received them — this tradition as regards its policy being one of open-minded readiness always to receive a new truth; a brotherly love for one's fellow-men; a detestation of dogmatism and a horror of hatred for others who may differ from us; a broad and liberal platform whereon any lover of his fellow-men who is a Theosophist at heart, and who loves truth more than his own opinions, may be enabled to stand. If this is 'orthodoxy,' then I say: Let us be proud of an orthodoxy which is the direct polar antithesis of the 'orthodoxy' which has become a by-word in the West; for it means the orthodoxy of brotherly love, of broad-mindedness, and of devotion to those sublime ideas of teaching and lofty ideals of conduct which the great Sages and Seers of all the ages have proved and have handed on to us as rules of life and of conduct in our dealings with our fellow-men.
Honest differences of opinion, and divergences in mere beliefs, will never harm either the Fellowship of the Theosophical Society or its work in the world, provided that these differences and divergences are not allowed to become dogmatic and therefore injurious to our common labor. There will always be a majority, I believe, in the Theosophical Society, who will love the grand body of teaching that they have received from the Masters, above all merely personal differences of doctrinal opinion; and I believe that the very best way to deal with individuals who try to force their opinions upon others, should such individuals ever arise in our ranks, is by a kindliness towards such individuals, a brotherly attitude towards them, but an avoidance of futile argument, and sometimes, indeed, by refusing to answer back when such answering back would likely bring about a hardening of the mind and attitude of the opinionated individuals concerned. In such cases they are best left to the softening and refining influences of time, for antagonism but increases their own antagonism, and leads to more deeply unbrotherly feelings.
And now, my Brothers of Sweden and of other lands gathered together on beautiful Visingso: from far-distant California I send to you my affectionate greetings and best wishes in every sense of the word, hoping 'that your gathering together in Convention will be the occasion for such brotherly and kindly interchange of views concerning better methods of propaganda and superior methods of fraternal labor, as will best serve the interests of the Theosophical Society.
Our endeavors along the line of interorganizational Theosophical fraternization have borne good fruit, despite great and at times obstinate opposition on the part of those who are too blind to see what our noble objectives are, and who, therefore, allow jealousy and fear to rule their actions. Fraternization does not mean the abandoning of one single item of the noble traditional Theosophical principles which we hold so dear; nor does it mean a wandering in any slightest degree from the Pathway of spiritual and intellectual endeavor which we have learned to follow from our study of Theosophy; but it does mean a kindly attitude towards other Theosophists, no matter how greatly we may think them mistaken in their doctrinal views; and an effort by brotherly kindness to bring them to see the superiority of our Masters' teachings, as first told to us through H. P. B., over any other collection of merely human ideas.
Orthodox in our unorthodoxy as the world sees it, tenacious of our lofty teachings and principles of conduct, firm in our resolution to be brotherly, with an understanding heart towards all men, we can safely leave the results of our work to the future. With malice towards none, with love towards all, and firm in our own convictions, our destiny is secured, and should be brilliant.
I am, Brothers,
Affectionately and fraternally yours,
G. de Purucker
— Letter to the European Convention, Visingso, Sweden, June 26-27, 1934.